Swimmers win district titles

Scott Swanson

Sweet Home’s swimmers demonstrated rather decisively Saturday, Feb. 14, that they have regained their status as one of the state’s powerhouses.

The question now is whether the girls have enough speed and depth to bring home another first-place trophy, from this weekend’s state meet.

The Huskies won both the boys and girls District 3 championships and qualified

“It was a good meet,” said Coach Doug Peargin. “I’m really happy where we are. We qualified everybody for state that I thought would go.”

After eking out the title last year, the girls won by roughly 89 points over Salem Academy Saturday. The boys, who placed a distant third last year, won by roughly 50.

Specifically, the Sweet Home scored 304 in the girls competition to Salem Academy’s 215, with Philomath (167) and Sisters (166) bunched behind. The boys scored 243, ahead of Salem Academy’s 194, with Philomath close behind at 191 and Blanchet at 151.

The girls finished with four individual district titlists: sophomore Lucie Davis in the 200 and 500 Freestyles, freshman Lauren Yon in the 200 Individual Medley, and sophomore Jessica Coats in the 100 Butterfly, as well as winning the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays.

The girls team of Makayla Nelson, Esther Gunselman, Jessica Coats, Lauren Yon swam 1:44.43 to finish nearly half a second ahead of Sisters in the 200 Freestyle Relay, which re-set the school record for the third time this year, Peargin noted and earned the Huskies a No. 1 seed at state in that event.

Sophomores Nathan Hager and Brandon Vasfaret won the 200 and 500 Freestyles, respectively, for the boys, who also won the 400 Freestyle relay.

Sweet Home is sending seven of its girls to state in nine events, including all three relays. The boys qualified four individuals in six events and also are sending all three relay teams.

Individual qualifiers for the girls are sophomore Lucie Davis in the 200 (seeded second) and 500 (seeded first) Freestyles, both of which she won at state last year; junior Makayla Nelson in the 200 (fifth) and 500 (fourth) Freestyles; freshman Mia Davis in the 200 (12th) and 500 (ninth) Freestyles; sophomore Coats in the 100 Butterfly (fifth) and 100 Backstroke (fifth); freshman Yon in the 200 Individual Medley (second) and 100 Freestyle (third); sophomore Elea Hewitt in the 200 IM (ninth); and junior Gunselman in the 200 IM (10th) and 100 Butterfly (11th).

In addition to their top seed in the 200 Freestyle Relay, the girls are seeded third in the 200 Medley Relay and fourth in the 400 Freestyle Relay.

Boys who have qualified are sophomore Nathan Hager in the 200 (third) and 100 (fifth) Freestyles; sophomore Brandon Vasfaret in the 500 Freestyle (second) and the 200 Freestyle (fifth); freshman Rawlins Lupoli in the 200 IM (sixth) and 100 Breaststroke (fourth); and freshman Rowland Lupoli in the 50 (11th) and the 100 (10th) Freestyles.

The boys are seeded first in the 400 Freestyle Relay, two seconds faster coming in than their nearest competitor, La Grande; and fifth in the 200 Medley and 200 Freestyle relays.

Peargin said his team met his expectations in every event, and possibly exceeded them – particularly in the final event, the 400 Freestyle Relay.

The boys came into the relay with the team championship in hand, mathematically, but seeded third after a lackluster time in Friday’s preliminaries.

“We weren’t sure we were going to do it,” senior Jaeger Howatt said. “We didn’t go as hard as we could have (Friday).”

Peargin said his leading swimmers were tired, after continuing daily doubles through the week until the district meet.

“I didn’t think we’d get them,” he said, noting that Salem Academy, which placed second in the team scoring, had its top 200 Medley Relay team, favored to win that event, disqualified in the prelims Friday.

“I’m not sure if they hadn’t lost that, if it wouldn’t have been down to two points either way. They helped us out.”

The boys, though, decided they were going to go for the district title in the 4×100 and told freshman Rowland Lupoli, their lead-off swimmer, to go all out. It worked.

Lupoli stayed nearly even Salem Academy’s and Blanchet’s lead swimmers through the first 100 yard and Vasfaret and Howatt edged the Huskies to the front, where anchor swimmer Nathan Hager extended their margin to nearly five seconds in front of a screaming Sweet Home cheering section on both sides of the South Albany Aquatic Center pool.

The girls preceded the boys with a similar performance, also coming in as third seeds. Freshman Mia Davis and Hewitt, a sophomore, kept Sweet Home within striking distance of Sisters and Salem Academy, who had a lead of about a body length and a half when Coats started narrowing that gap on the third leg and anchor Lucie Davis took over. With 50 yards to go, Davis had caught the leaders and, windmilling through the water, brought it home for the Huskies.

“I was freaking out,” said Davis. “I didn’t think we were able to do it. I know my abilities, what I’m capable of, but it took me a while. I had to kind of convince myself that ‘It’s OK. You can do this. Just do it.’”

Nelson, a junior, who is the most experienced member of the girls team in high school competition, said that was the big moment of the meet for Sweet Home.

“We just pulled together and won it.”

Davis repeated as district champion in both the 200 and 500 Freestyles, leading sweeps of those races with Nelson and Mia Davis, her younger sister.

“It was cool that I got to go one-two-three with Makayla and Mia,” she said. “All of our freshmen, boys and girls, placed really high. I’m really proud of them.

“It was exciting. I don’t know how to even describe it. It was just a really fun, good team.

“We’re a lot bigger. We have a lot more people and everybody’s really good. We didn’t have anybody on the team, really, that was a bad swimmer.”

After the Huskies placed a distant third last year, Howatt said he enjoyed this year a lot more.

“We just have more kids. We have more experienced kids. We have the twins and they’re fast.

We are just better than we were last year. We’re just kind of more unstoppable.”

Peargin said the state meet will present some big challenges for Sweet Home’s girls – particularly from North Bend.

“North Bend is brutal,” he said. “They’re 20 points better on paper than the next team. If you’re going to be in the top four and pull a trophy, everybody’s got to swim big. If you’ve got a lifetime best in there, you’d better get it out because second-best isn’t good enough here.”

Nelson, who will be the most experienced Husky swimmer at state this year, said she expects the win at districts to propel the team at Mt. Hood Community College, where the championships will be held Friday and Saturday.

“I think since we got this win, more confident for state,” she said. “I think it drives us to want to win state more. I think we have a better chance.”

Lucie Davis said it will come down to teamwork.

“I think we should see what we can do together as a team. I guess the ultimate goal is to win the whole thing. But we have goals set for ourselves, our own personal goals. I think all of them added up would be pretty impresive for us to do. We’re excited. I’m really excited to see what’s going to to happen.”

Howatt said he hopes the boys will medal in the relays and he’d like to see them finish in the trophies – the top four teams.

“I don’t know if we could place,” he said. “That would be pretty crazy.”

Peargin noted that the Huskies are taking some new blood to state, sophomore Elea Hewitt as well as the freshmen, Mia Davis, Lauren Yon and the Lupoli twins.

The Huskies, he said, will taper this week after “swimming tired” at the district meet.

“We’re going to take 14 kids (including relay alternates) for sure,” he said. “That’s as many as we’ve taken up there in a long time. I’m just hoping we get some big swims out of them up there. They’re on pace to do it. Now it’s just a matter of getting their heads in the ball game. You just have to get your mind set right.”

District 3 Swimming Championships

Girls Results

Top 3 and Sweet Home scorers

Team Scores – (1) Sweet Home 304; (2) Salem Academy 215; (3) Philomath 167; (4) Sisters 166; (5) Stayton 112; (6) Blanchet 87; (7) Cascade 86; (8) North Marion 65; (9) Junction City 34.

200 Medley Relay – (1) Salem Academy 1:54.91; (2) Sweet Home (Makayla Nelson, Lauren Yon, Esther Gunselman, Lucie Davis) 1:56.00; (3) Stayton 2:08.54; (4) Cascade 2:09.39; (5) Sweet Home “B” (Elea Hewitt, Milah Weld, Mia Davis, Kendra Vorce) 2:11.2; (6) Philomath 2:12.64; (7) Sisters 2:13.54; (8) Blanchet 2:13.98; (9) North Marion 2:18.45; (10) Junction City 2:17.37; (11) Philomath “B” 2:24.98; (12) Salem Academy “B” 2:34.63.

200 Freestyle – (1) Lucie Davis (SH) 1:58.13; (2) Makayla Nelson (SH) 2:01.32; (3) Mia Davis (SH) 2:09.21; (10) Sara Helfrich (SH) 2:26.08.

200 Individual Medley – (1) Lauren Yon (SH) 2:15.09; (2) Kiera Supple (Salem Academy) 2:17.65; (3) Elea Hewitt (SH) 38/16; (4) Esther Gunselman (SH) 2:27.63; (9) Natasha Benson (SH) 2:54.89.

50 Freestyle – (1) Mary Stewart (Sisters) 25.15; (2) Kendra Sheeder (Philomath) 25.99; (3) Emily Christen (Sisters) 26.15; (8) Kendra Vorce (SH) 29.00; (11) Kristen Adams (SH) 31.08.

100 Butterfly – (1) Jessica Coats (SH) 1:01.20; (2) Esther Gunselman (SH) 1:06.08; (3) Emma Boles (Salem Academy) 1:06.41; (11) Sierrah Owen (SH) 1:30.24.

100 Freestyle – (1) Mary Stewart (Sisters) 54.89; (2) Lauren Yon (SH) 55.09; (3) Aleya Hill (Stayton) 57.74; (10) Kendra Vorce (SH) 1:05.34.

500 Freestyle – (1) Lucie Davis (SH) 5:12.95; (2) Makayla Nelson (SH) 5:25.88; (3) Mia Davis (SH) 5:40.08; (11) Sara Helfrich (SH) 6:37.65.

200 Freestyle Relay – (1) Sweet Home (Makayla Nelson, Esther Gunselman, Jessica Coats, Lauren Yon) 1:44.43; (2) Sisters 1:44.80; (3) Salem Academy 1:47.90; (4) Philomath 1:52.74; (5) Cascade 1:56.71; (6) Blanchet 1:57.70; (7) Stayton 2:04.22; (8) Junction City 2:08.78; (9) North Marion 2:18.12; (10) Sweet Home “B” (Kristen Adams, Kendra Vorce, Maddee Hawken, Sara Helfrich) 2:04.13; (11) Philomath “B” 2:04.73; (12) Blanchet “B” 2:19.66.

100 Backstroke – (1) Keira Supple (Salem Academy) 59.55; (2) Jessica Coats (SH) 1:03.49; (3) Emma Boles (Salem Academy) 1:04.96.

100 Breaststroke – (1) Grace Ware (Salem Academy) 1:14.31; (2) Min Wei (Cascade) 1:18.54; (3) Elea Hewitt (SH) 1:19.17; (8) Maddee Hawken (SH) 1:24.91.

400 Freestyle Relay – (1) Sweet Home (Mia Davis, Jessica Coats, Elea Hewitt, Lucie Davis) 3:54.82; (2) Sisters 3:55.30; (3) Salem Academy 3:55.52; (4) Stayton 4:13.35; (5) Philomath 4:13.52; (6) Blanchet 4:16.91; (7) North Marion 4:34.74; (8) Salem Academy “B” 4:25.32; (9) Sisters “B” 4:38.58; (10) Philomath “B” 4:40.28; (11) Blanchet “B” 4:42.94.

Boys Results

Top 3 and Sweet Home scorers

Team Scores – (1) Sweet Home 243; (2) Salem Academy 194; (3) Philomath 191; (4) Blanchet 151; (5) North Marion 119; (6) Junction City 87; (7) Sisters 59; (8) Cascade 59; (9) Stayton 22.

200 Medley Relay – (1) Philomath 1:46.17; (2) Sweet Home (Brandon Vasfaret, Rawlins Lupoli, Jaeger Howatt, Sean Wolthuis) 1:49.03; (3) Blanchet 1:50.71; (4) Junction City 1:54.91; (5) Cascade 2:01.31; (6) Philomath “B” 2:05.99; (7) Sweet Home “B” (Ryan Yon, Grant Jones, Jun Kaneyama, Tanner Goble) 2:05.62; (8) North Marion 2:10.81.

200 Freestyle – (1) Nathan Hager (SH) 1:52.82; (2) Brandon Vasfaret (SH) 1:54.02; (3) Chris Linton (Stayton) 2:07.65; (8) Grant Jones (SH) 2:14.51; (9) Ryan Yon (SH) 2:16.88.

200 Individual Medley – (1) Vincent Kelly (Blanchet) 2:10.73; (2) Rowlins Lupoli (SH) 2:10.81; (3) Reid Priewe (Philomath) 2:23.21; (5) Sean Wolthuis (SH) 2:27.11.

50 Freestyle – (1) Ryan Sherman (Junction City) 23.17; (2) Taden Swing (Salem Academy) 23.42; (3) Clay Youker (Philomath) 23.59; (4) Rowland Lupoli (SH) 24.49; (5) Jaeger Howatt (SH) 24.49; (12) Tanner Goble (SH) 26.66.

100 Butterfly – (1) Clay Youker (Philomath) 55.67; (2) Vincent Kelly (Blanchet) 58.99; (3) Shane Clark (Salem Academy) 1:01.67.

100 Freestyle – (1) Jeremy Darst (Blanchet) 50.49; (2) Patrick Williamson (Philomath) 50.64; (3) Nathan Hager (SH) 51.22; (4) Rowland Lupoli (SH) 54.64; (9) Tanner Goble (SH) 58.74.

500 Freestyle – (1) Brandon Vasfaret (SH) 5:13.60; (2) Ryan Sherman (Junction City) 5:27.66; (3) Shane Clark (Salem Academy) 5:35.21; (6) Grant Jones (SH) 6:04.53;

200 Freestyle Relay – (1) Philomath 1:35.46; (2) Salem Academy 1:36.85; (3) Sweet Home 1:36.89; (4) North Marion 1:43.28; (5) Salem Academy “B” 1:41.54; (6) Sisters 1:45.21; (7) Cascade 1:45.57; (8) Philomath 1:49.90.

100 Backstroke – (1) Jeremy Darst (Blanchet) 55.55; (2) Taden Swing (Salem Academy) 1:00.26; (3) Reid Priewe (Philomath) 1:04.78; (4) Sean Wolthuis (SH) 1:05.30; (12) Adam Barber (SH) 1:16.07.

100 Breaststroke – (1) Patrick Williamson (Philomath) 1:03.05; (2) Rawlins Lupoli (SH) 1:06.17; (3) Bradley Derosiers (Blanchet) 1:11.54; (12) Ryan Yon (SH) 1:22.82.

400 Freestyle Relay – (1) Sweet Home (Rowland Lupoli, Brandon Vasfaret, Jaeger Howatt, Nathan Hager) 3:30.93; (2) Blanchet 3:35.69; (3) Salem Academy 3:46.46; (4) Philomath 3:46.84; (5) North Marion 3:54.61; (6) Blanchet “B” 4:05.62; (7) Sweet Home “B” (Grant Jones, Craig Hansen Ryan Yon, Sean Wolthuis) 4:04.72; (8) Salem Academy “B” 4:10.73; (9) Philomath “B” 4:36.66.